Last week sometime, the ability of deal jockeys to put their inane transactions together with teeny amounts of equity and big towering dollops of debt seems to have dried up. This means that companies wishing to acquire other companies must come up with real money to buy them.
While this is possible in some cases, it competely defenstrates the useless, nutty deals in which hapless entities eager to buy revenue suck it up with money provided by banks thirsty for fees.
A world where corporations have to buy things with money instead of debt? The mind boggles.
While this is good news for people inside of companies who do not wish to be acquired and hurled through the hermetically sealed windows, it is very bad news for the entire part of the business universe that subsists on transactions for their own sake. This includes lawyers, investment bankers, hedge fund managers, management consultants, ultra-senior management looking for that last big payoff, and their former spouses.
This has happened once before, most notably in 1991, when it took two years for the easy money to reappear and folks were able to put together indefensible deals at 15 multiples of EBITDA again.
So while we all wait for a more hospitable atmosphere for bored senior executives, speculators, pyramid schemers and cynical financial architects, here are some things that the remora that prey upon the gigantic body of corporate capitalism can do:
1. Assemble Powerpoint presentations about the coming second, third and fourth wave of consolidation.
2. Have lunch with fellow investment bankers. Try the veal. It’s the best in the city.
3. Have dinner with frustrated CEOs who don’t know what to do in the idiotic deal vacuum.
4. Have breakfast with just about anybody. While breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it really doesn’t matter, in a business sense, who you have it with. You can even pick up the check and generate the impression with your boss that you are engaging in some form of industrious business activity.
5. Talk to reporters who will let you attack your competitors without attribution. It’s safe and fun.
6. Assemble Powerpoint presentations about the first, second and third wave of deconsolidation.
8. Go to boondoggles at Gstaad, Sun Valley, Mountain View, or any other location where really rich people gather together to figure out ways generate the appearance of creative activity while enjoying fine wine and cheese.
9. Learn to play the violin.
10. Just wait, you know? Things will turn around. They always do, right? Like, what’s the alternative? Business as usual? Gimme a break!